Into 2019

Andrew Biggs

As I write, Julie and I are packing (well, thinking about it!) for our trip to Lee Abbey tomorrow. If you’ve never been I can recommend as a good place to get away for a few days and spend time in the company of of other Christians. It is not really an abbey but a large hotel like building set in beautiful country on the edge of Exmoor, near Lynton. It has its own bay and little beach, with a beach chapel inside a nearby cave. There are beautiful views out to sea, places to walk and good food. There is worship each day and a programme of events organised by the resident community with guest speakers and the Beacon Centre for children and young people. But all is voluntary and you are free to join in as much or as little as you wish. We’ve been several times now and always enjoyed our stay.

As always going away, thought has to be given to security - cancelling the milk, informing the neighbours, locking all the windows, putting away any personal information that might be lying around and making sure all the doors are locked before we go. I suppose we have a heightened sense of this at present after the three break ins we have had at Church in the past year.

To that end we will be having a new security system fitted to the Church buildings tomorrow (12th Feb) which will monitor the outside doors and approaches with CCTV as well as alerting us of any attempts to break in. Don’t worry though - it is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible as afar as users of the building is concerned and will be automatic so there will be no need for training or knowledge of codes as long as the building is accessed during normal hours.

As many of you are aware, my view is that there are some ways in which too much security goes against the grain of the type of community that we are aiming to build as part of God’s church, the body of Christ - a community of love, of generosity, of justice and worship. Trust and sharing are important elements of such a community and too many locked doors are not conducive to conveying or demonstrating our belief in the sort of community we are trying to model as part of our mission to share the gospel of Christ with everyone we meet and who shares our premises.

Such a community is well described by that passage from Acts 2:42-47 from which our ‘Holy Habits’ are taken and which we have been looking at as part of our planning for the Holy Habits project, due to begin at the end of April:

The Fellowship of the Believers

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Jesus is very clear in his teaching that hoarding an excess of possessions and wealth to ourselves is not his way. For example, when a rich young man came to Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to enter heaven, Jesus told him to follow the commandments, and to sell all he had and give to to the poor (Matthew 19: 16-29). On another occasion Jesus teaches that we should be generous with what we have, even to those who do us wrong:

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who asks from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. Luke 6: 27-36.

There are many other examples I could quote but this is enough to give a flavour of the kind of community Jesus wants us to be - a community of love, of generosity and grace without judgement.

But there is another side to consider - and that is about how we care for those people who are part of our church family and community. Property can be repaired, goods can be replaced but people are harder to repair and impossible to replace! We must consider how it feels to arrive to open up and find doors or windows broken open, goods scattered around and a general scene of chaos. What if there is still someone on the premises? What if someone is disturbed in the process? This is the main reason for these new security measures - to care for and safeguard our people.

So I hope that the new systems do not cause any problems but if so let us know and bear with us as we get to grips with the technology!

Holy Habits

The planning for Holy Habits is going well and we have now set a time table for the order in which we will follow them which is as follows:

1. May / June 2019 Eating Together

2. July / August 2019 Fellowship

3. September / October 2019 Gladness and Generosity

4. November / December 2019 Serving

5. January / February 2020 Sharing

6. March / April 2020 Biblical Teaching

7. May / June 2020 Breaking Bread

8. July / August 2020 Making more Disciples

9. September / October 2020 Prayer

10. November / December 2020 Worship

The whole project will begin with a Launch Event on Sunday 28th April. This will begin with an act of worship on Sunday morning followed by a meal together and displays and quizzes and games for all the family. More details nearer the time but in the meant time - please save the date!.

We will also be learning a new song from Singing the Faith, to be used as the introit for each Sunday of the month and related to the current Holy Habit - watch out for these.

The first Holy Habit will be promoted during May and June this year and is ‘Eating Together’. There will be a programme of events published soon but we would also like every church groups to consider how they might incorporate the Holy Habits into their own programme in some way, beginning with Eating Together during May and June.

Please keep an eye on the notice board in the hall for further updates.

The next planning meeting is on 25th March at 7.30pm and anyone is welcome to join us.

With every blessing

Andrew

And I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20

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